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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Find the Parents
by Betty Jo Tucker

Wild, funny and smart, Flirting with Disaster follows the misadventures of a man searching for his biological parents. Playing the film’s main character, Ben Stiller excels as Mel Coplin, an obsessed father taking his wife, 4-month-old baby and a psychology student on a hilarious journey to such exotic places as San Diego, New Mexico and Michigan – not necessarily in that order. What Mel ends up finding proves the truth of that old saying, “Be careful what you wish for.”

Why is Mel in such a hurry to find his real mother and father at this particular time? His adoptive parents (George Segal and Mary Tyler Moore) express great concern about his quest. But Mel claims he can’t name his son until he knows more about his own “roots.” His wife (Patricia Arquette) isn’t sure about the trip, either, but she goes along anyway. And so does a doctoral candidate (Tea Leoni) who plans to film the reunion between Mel and his birth parents. Joining the search later are two gay FBI agents (Josh Brolin and Richard Jenkins). Screwball antics ensue.

Surviving mistaken identity debacles in San Diego and Michigan, our intrepid travelers discover Mel’s real mom and pop (Lily Tomlin and Alan Alda) living in a remote New Mexico area called Antelope Springs. It’s a touching reunion, at least until Mel’s new-found brother tries to fell him with an LSD-laced main course for dinner, and his parents confess their unsavory reason for putting him up for adoption. Can anything else happen to spoil Mel’s mission? Plenty. One of the FBI agents, who admits he’s bi-sexual, showers attention on Mel’s wife – and Mel has a hard time hiding his attraction for the sexy psychology student. Sounds like a French farce, you say? Well, you got that right. And it’s just as entertaining.

Originally released in 1996, Flirting with Disaster is now part of the Miramax Collector’s Series available on DVD beginning June 1, 2004. This new series, which also includes Trainspotting and Copland, celebrates the 25th anniversary of Miramax films.

Although DVD bonus features for Flirting with Disaster are a bit disappointing, it’s fun to see the film’s terrific cast talk about their reactions to being in this wacky David Russell comedy. I also found it interesting to watch one of the deleted scenes between Tea Leoni and Ben Stiller demonstrate conclusively the competency of the film’s editor. And, while not every clip showing the movie’s “humorous mistakes” comes across as humorous as expected, I couldn’t help laughing heartily at Lily Tomlin and Alan Alda falling all over themselves as they make fun of making love. 

Flirting with Disaster needs no bonus features to entice viewers. It stands on its own as a cause for celebration. Happy anniversary, Miramax!

(Released by Miramax Home Entertainment and rated “R” for sexuality and a comic drug scene. Bonus materials unrated.)


                                                                                                                                                                               
 
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